Audio Description for Publishers

January 27, 2020 BY ELISA LEWIS
Updated: May 1, 2020

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The internet has completely transformed the publishing industry. Before its mainstream use, people used to consume their favorite publishing content through traditional mediums like newspapers or magazines. Today, those same people can access publishing content instantly on their smartphones and tablets. 

Video has impacted the publishing industry as well. It continues to be a preferred medium to view content due to its ability to create engaging and captivating experiences. According to Biteable, 78% of people watch videos every week and 55% view online videos every day. 

With the popularity of video and the convenience of the internet, publishers have caught on to the importance of producing online videos to share with their audiences. However, in order to reach as many people as possible, publishers must make their content accessible to everyone. 

Audio description is an audio track that narrates the relevant visual information in a video. Although it’s a useful accommodation for blind and low vision viewers, it’s also helpful for viewers who multitask, who are on the autism spectrum, or who may be auditory learners. Utilizing audio description not only makes your video more inclusive, but it helps publishing brands appeal to a wider audience. 

In this post, we cover what publishers should consider when it comes to audio description, including what is most important, common challenges, and features to look for when selecting an audio description vendor. 

 10 Crucial Questions to Ask an Audio Description Vendor ➡️ 

What is Important for Publishers?


There is about 3.5% of the world’s population living with some form of vision loss. That’s around 245 million people. When videos are inaccessible, publishers are missing out on a huge percentage of the population. Many publishing companies are realizing the importance of accessibility and how it expands their audience. Accessibility even helps brands from facing legal damages, which leads to the next point. 

Legal Compliance

Publishing companies are required to comply with accessibility laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is a broad anti-discrimination law that protects people with disabilities. It requires that places of public accommodation provide auxiliary aids for people that need them, such as audio description. It has long been argued if places of public accommodation include online businesses. However, several well-known accessibility cases, like NAD v. Netflix, have set a strong precedent that the ADA applies to online businesses as well. When publishers don’t provide audio description, it puts them at risk of a lawsuit. 


For publishers who are interested in audio description, it’s of the highest importance that the descriptions are high-quality and accurate. Audio description is relied upon by many viewers, and inaccurate or poor quality descriptions can be confusing. Not only is this difficult for viewers that rely on audio description to watch videos, but it’s a bad look for brands. High-quality descriptions will explain all of the important visual information of a video. They will also follow guidelines for the quality provided by the DCMP Description Key to ensure they are complying with the ADA. 

User Experience

Another important factor for publishers is user experience. There are a large number of videos published on the internet daily. Accessible video ensures that your videos stand out amongst the rest because it gives viewers different viewing options. Aside from accommodating blind and low vision viewers, audio description helps viewers who are multi-taskers. Many viewers play video while performing other tasks. Audio description allows viewers to understand all the important visual elements without having to look at the screen, like someone who is cooking while playing a video. It also aids with inattentional blindness, a phenomenon where people miss the important visual information in plain sight. It even helps with language development, auditory learners, and those on the autism spectrum. The benefits of audio description to the user experience are endless. 

What Are Some Common Challenges for Publishers?

download the checklist: how to choose an audio description vendor. Get the checklist

Many publishers produce a large volume of content on a daily basis. With so many videos, it can be challenging to find a reliable process to withstand a large content load. Additionally, some companies may have a backlog of content that needs to be described. No two companies will have the same needs, but it’s important for publishers to find a solution that can handle a library of content without sacrificing quality or breaking the bank. 


When it comes to implementing video accessibility, cost tends to be the top barrier from year to year. The traditional process for audio description can become extremely expensive since it requires voice actors and costly equipment. Publishers want to find a reasonable price, without having to worry about the quality. Luckily, there are vendors that provide the best of both worlds: quality descriptions at an affordable price. 

Ease of Use/Workflow

There aren’t many video platforms that support audio description. If they do, it typically needs to be added as a secondary track with the descriptions burned into them. However, a downside of this method is that users won’t be able to toggle the descriptions on or off or adjust the volume of the audio description. When choosing a vendor, publishers need a reliable partner to help with publishing and simplifying the workflow. 

What Vendor Features Are Important for Publishers?

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Competitive Pricing

At 3Play Media, our audio description process utilizes both technology and humans to bring down costs, as opposed to the traditional audio description process. We understand that price is a big factor when choosing a service, that’s why our process leverages technology. Publishers will not have to worry about hiring a voice actor or resubmissions, which makes the process easier and faster.

Simplified Workflow

No more having to worry about which video platforms support audio description. With 3Play, we help publishers simplify their workflows. Our audio description plugin allows publishers to add descriptions to videos without having to republish audio or video files. With this plugin, your viewers have the ability to toggle the audio description on or off and adjust the volume of the description, which is separate from the volume of the original audio track. Our plugin is compatible with most video platforms and helps publishers focus on what’s important – publishing content. 

Quality Descriptions

We’re all about quality at 3Play. We ensure that all of our descriptions follow the standards provided by the DCMP Description Key guidelines so that it is accurate, prioritized, consistent, appropriate, and equal. If publishers want to make minor tweaks to descriptions, we even allow you to go into the Account System to make any updates. Additionally, you can choose the type of synthesized speech you want to dictate the descriptions. Our editors use phonetic transcription codes to ensure the synthesized speech pronounces words in your file correctly. 


At 3Play, we’re more than just an audio description vendor. We’re an accessibility partner. We help you step-by-step to make sure your videos are accessible and comply with state and federal laws. You’ll be supported every step of the way with our team of dedicated Account Managers, Support Reps, and our vast educational resources. 

Flexible Turnaround Options

Whether you need a file completed by the same day or in a week, we’ve got you covered. We offer a variety of turnaround options to fit your specific needs. Either way, you can sit back and relax knowing that your files will be completed by your preferred deadline without ever sacrificing quality. 

Looking for an audio description vendor to fit your specific needs? Download this checklist when selecting a vendor! 👇

10 questions to ask an audio description vendor. download the checklist




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